Taking Back ‘Terrified’ with Dave Ross & Anna Seregina

0 Comments 03 September 2015

The hilarious podcast Terrified is raising awareness toward mental health awareness in the geek and comedy community, and we love it.

By Steven Ray Morris


Shit gets real, as they say, on the Terrified podcast. Comedians, musicians, and other performers open up about their fears and doubts, ranging from literal to existential, and even metaphysical on occasion. In-between confessional one-on-one conversations with either comedian Dave Ross or (more recently) comedian Anna Seregina, these two pals answer listener mail and riff on their favorite 90s music or each other.

I’m meeting Dave and Anna in the back of Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park today to talk to them about their deeply inspiring and endlessly engaging podcast as they prepare to embark on a two week tour (the first proper tour for the Terrified podcast). Check out our chat below to learn how to best interview guests, on if their guests’ lives have changed since appearing on the show, strategizing for their live tour, and how the dialogue on mental health awareness has only just begun.


Anna Seregina_CallieBiggerstaff_01 Dave Ross_JakeRobinson_01


What made you want to talk about peoples fears and self-loathing and how did Terrified come together?

Dave Ross: There’s a lot of reasons. I just think about this stuff a lot ever since I became aware that I have some kind of anxiety problem and depression. After printing out the book/memoir I wrote when I was twenty-three and sharing it with friends I learned that people don’t judge you if you are open about your fears and anxieties. This helped, combined that with all the pop-punk we talked about earlier. That shit saved my life because it was fun music made by confident people about being afraid and liking girls. That kind of honesty and lack of fear really helped me. So I’ve always wanted to pay it forward. So if I’m going to start a fucking podcast it’s either going to be about all this or like 90s hits.

Anna Seregina: Yep.

Dave: Or like Anna and I making fart jokes. There’s not really much else I think about.




How/When did Anna Seregina join as co-host?

Dave: I have a few close friends. She’s one of them. So when she moved here I was like, “I gotta have her on the show.” Then she was on the show and it was great.

Anna: We also did some shows together where we just talked. I’d never performed with someone where just talking with them was fun and silly, and stupid.

Dave: It worked really well. We did a show together in San Francisco where the theme was just having someone on stage roasting all the comics as they are doing their set.

Anna: It was fine when it worked, but it was really strange.

Dave: But when it was time to close out, we told a story together.

Anna:  We were having so much fun we weren’t even able to get through one point of the story. So, I joined the podcast based on that experience and being on an episode. Also Dave started getting more listener mail.

Dave: I just wanted to push the format of the show a little and break it up into segments. I wanted to read one listener mail an episode because I ask listeners to send me e-mails of their own fears and anxieties. Anna’s so great and we have a great rapport. So I thought, “What if she just did it with me every week?”

Anna: So really it’s just an excuse for us to hang out, you know?

Dave: It’s really for the two of us.

Anna: Weirdly, we’ve gotten a great response. People enjoying listening to two people just having a fun.


Anna Seregina_JakeRobinson_01


Terrified is part of a seemingly recent movement towards mental health awareness in the geek and comedy community (Emily V Gordons book Super You, Wil Wheatons You Are Okay project). Do you think people are just tired of feeling shitty?

Dave: I think that the levy is breaking with people’s feelings. My mom told me a story of one time I fell down as a kid. She was like, “Hey, don’t cry,” but my dad then said, “Let him cry. My father never let me cry.” It’s a really sweet story. My dad also made fun of me for having a therapist as a grown up, which is ridiculous, but it’s fine. I’m not mad at him. He still had a stigma about it. Our generation is starting to shake off the stigma. I want the world to be sweet and accepting and feminine and soft, and also masculine and all of the things, all of the things that people are at once. It just took this long for Americans to be okay with it enough to push for it. We’re okay with it. Let’s talk about it.


You both mentioned that you want to only interview guests one-on-one, what is it about group situations that shut off opportunities to be vulnerable?

Dave: I don’t think it’s necessarily being in a group. Comedians are comedians. If two comedians are talking you can have a regular conversation. If three comedians are talking and one of them starts to joke around, the rest want to joke around. Then it becomes a joke around session and you can lose focus.

Anna: That and when you add the audience there’s an implicit need to—especially if it’s a comedian—a need to elicit a response audibly, that’s laugher.

Dave: That’s the thing, if you are on stage and you’re not getting laughs, you’re not a good comedian.

Anna: And then, personally, in a group setting, I wouldn’t admit vulnerable things. One-on-one conversations are treated with more respect and understanding.

Dave: Being an interviewer is a job. And it’s a thankless one to the extent that you’re not the important one.

Anna: You are curating it as you go. You’re editing it as you go. If you are a guest and you’re sharing something really personal, and there are two people, it feels less like a conversation, which is where a lot of the really intimate stuff comes out. Despite how understanding and compassionate the interviewers are, it begins to feel more like almost interrogation. You are more on display and the person being interviewed can be made more to feel like a spectacle.




Were you nervous about how forthcoming the guests would or wouldnt be?

Dave: No. You know what I was nervous about? Being bullied about it.

Anna: By the guests or by the audience? Or by your friends?

Dave: By my friends and by the guests maybe a little bit. I guess I’m not really going to get bullied; like, nobody’s going to take my fucking jacket [laughs].

Anna: It’s so funny. It’s a juvenile assumption that sincerity would be met with mockery, when to me, if someone is sincere, that’s the one time you can’t fuck with them. As you become older the rules kind of switch, if you say, “I feel sad because of x, y, z,” and then I’m like, “That’s lame.” Then clearly I’m the dick. Immediately.

Dave: Totally, you’re absolutely right. And I’m intellectually aware of that, but this is probably the underlying reason why I do all this shit.


Anna, your interview with comedian Wendi Starling was a very moving and powerful, are you going to be doing more solo interviewing duties soon?

Anna: Thank you. That interview means a lot to me, so I really appreciate that. So the answer is “I want to,” but it depends on the person. I think if Dave knows them better then they’re more likely to open up to Dave. I guess it also depends on what we hope to get out of the interview too. I’m totally open to it and want to do it.




Do you think your guests are happier or healthier after being on the show?

Dave: I don’t know man. I have two examples that come to mind immediately, that are opposites. I know that it helps the audience for sure. It definitely makes the guest think about it, if they hadn’t been already. Eric Dadourian talked about his mom fucking him up as a kid. His mom listened to the episode and called him up saying, “I had no idea.” Then they went out for coffee and resolved it.


Thats amazing.

Dave: Isn’t it though? After I had Andrew Orvedahl on, he went out to his car and immediately had a panic attack. I didn’t mean to do that at all. That’s not my intention. I just want people to talk. I felt so bad.


What episodes would you recommend for people just getting into Terrified?

Dave: Well you already mentioned the Wendi Starling episode. They should definitely listen to that one. There’s so many that I like. It really depends on what you are looking for from the show. The Megan Beth Koester episode is really amazing, the Eric Dadourian one too. If you have any money troubles the Baron Vaughn one is great. The Jake Weisman episode is really great because that guy is so in tune with his feelings. If you relate to anything I said in this interview, then the one where Jake interviews me could be really helpful. I felt so much better after that one [laughs]. It was good for me. That’s weird to say about my own show. I don’t like being arrogant, but it turns out I like my own podcast.


I really love Emily V Gordons episode.

Dave: Emily’s episode is really amazing because she’s so sweet and funny, and so open. She really wants to talk about deep shit, but keep a light-hearted tone. Actually that would be the starter episode if I had to pick one, thank you for saying because that’s exactly what I’m going for with the show. The guests can get as deep as they want and we can still joke around. That’s the whole point of the show.




At the time of this interview you are about to embark on a tour for the podcast. Whats do you anticipate the live shows are going to be like?

Dave: It’ll be the first live Terrified that Anna’s on, and it’s a first time the podcast has gone on tour. Before, I just did the podcast at festivals I was already performing. We’re figuring it out, but I think and I know it’ll be great out of the gate. Our first live taping will be at Cinecave in San Francisco.

Anna: It’ll be like a homecoming because that’s where I’m from. I’m nervous.

Dave: What are you scared of?

Anna: I’m just curious to see how the energy of the show switches. I just don’t anticipate people sharing very serious things, but I think some people will.

Dave: Yeah, you gauge if they laugh about it, and then you laugh that amount.

Anna: Hopefully, the best intersection is getting someone to talk about something vulnerable, but because they are a naturally funny person, they cannot help but be funny when they talk about it. That’s kind of the perfect marriage between those two things.




Terrified took a short hiatus over the summer this year, but you are coming back. How are you feeling about the return? Can you tease any upcoming episodes for us?

Dave: Yes, we have the tour ending with the live show in LA [Sept. 7th]. When we come back, there’s a going to be a new logo. I’m excited. We have an interview with Soupy from The Wonder Years. That’s going to be great, and there’s some other stuff we’re toying with that Anna and I will probably hash out when we’re on the road together. We really want to bring storytellers on or musicians to do a ten minute piece that involves their own anxieties or depression. We really want to do that, so hopefully there will be some music, storytelling, and stand-up. It’s going to have a lighter touch. It’s going to be sillier. I’m excited.


Dave Ross_Tyler Ross


You can catch Terrified With Dave Ross and Anna Seregina live at the NerdMelt Showroom in Los Angeles on Monday, September 7, 2015.

Tickets are available here.

Terrified is back with new episodes September 16. Catch up with the podcast via iTunes or over at Nerdist.


Follow Dave Ross on Twitter.

Follow Anna Seregina on Twitter.

For all things Dave Ross, go to:

For all things Anna Seregina, go to:

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- who has written 26 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Steven Ray Morris is an author, musician, cat owner, and an okapi in his next life. Floating around California with detours living in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Japan, he currently resides in Los Angeles until persuaded otherwise. He is a UC Santa Barbara Film & Media Studies graduate and occasionally cosplays as Carl Sagan. Jurassic Park trading cards are his jam. Follow him on Twitter @StevenRayMorris.

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